After a year away from F1, Kamui Kobayashi is back on the grid driving for backmarkers Caterham and doing so for free.
Making his debut with Toyota at the 2009 Brazilian GP, Kobayashi captured the attention of the paddock and the fans as he kept Champion-elect Jenson Button at bay. He finished ninth before netting his first points ever a race later in Abu Dhabi when he brought his TF109 home in sixth place.
Moving to BMW-Sauber the following season, Kobayashi continued his learning curve although a spate of retirements at the start of the season did not help. He finished 12th with 32 points and matched that position in his two seasons to secure a hat-trick of P12s.
That, though, was not enough to guarantee him a place on the 2013 grid when Sauber opted not to retain him. Needing money for a drive, he turned to his fans and raised €8 million but failed to secure a seat.
That meant a year away from F1 in which he competed in the World Endurance Championship for Ferrari.
And although Ferrari opted to retain him for 2014, the Japanese driver will instead make his F1 return with Caterham, racing for the backmarkers for free.
Kobayashi is hoping his experience not only helps his team but also goes some way towards securing his future in F1.